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7 Amazing Facts About the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Visit Los Angeles’ Hollywood neighborhood and you’ll walk sidewalks unlike any other. That’s where you’ll find the Hollywood Walk of Fame, featuring brass and terrazzo stars inscribed with the names of some of Hollywood’s most influential actors, directors, producers, and even fictional characters. The Walk of Fame laid its first star in 1960, and more than 60 years later, the institution continues to add around 20 to 30 names every year. These seven facts explore how this entertainment landmark came to be, the kind of people it honors, and some of the twists and turns it’s taken along the way.

The Ceiling of a Hollywood Hotel Possibly Inspired the Walk of Fame

The idea for the Walk of Fame is credited to E. M. Stuart, who served as the volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in the mid-1950s. According to the Walk of Fame website, Stuart wrote in 1953 that a monument like the walk would “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.”

In the 1950s, Hollywood still stood at the center of the world’s entertainment industry, though its golden age had begun to fade in 1948 when the U.S. Supreme Court broke up movie studios’ monopolistic grip on movie theaters. Stuart may have been motivated by wanting to preserve those glory days when the idea for the Walk of Fame began to coalesce. Where Stuart got the idea for the Walk of Fame is a matter of debate, but the leading theory is that the dining room ceiling of the Hollywood Hotel (demolished in 1956) used to feature stars with the names of famous actors and actresses written on them. Stuart may have simply brought that entertainment tradition onto the streets of Hollywood itself.

The First Star Added to the Walk of Fame Belonged to Filmmaker Stanley Kramer

To get the Hollywood Walk of Fame off to a strong start and to drum up excitement, the creators made a sample walk in 1958, which included stars for Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence, and Joanne Woodward. Although Woodward is often cited as the first recipient, the inaugural star laid at today’s Hollywood Walk of Fame belonged to director/producer Stanley Kramer (It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Defiant Ones, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner); it was laid on March 28, 1960, near Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street. However, Kramer was soon only one among many — 1,558 stars were installed in just the first year alone.

The Youngest Person at Induction Was 15-Year-Old Patty McCormack

While it usually takes time to develop an entertainment career worthy of a Hollywood star, actress Patty McCormack achieved the feat in record time. As part of the initial creation of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, McCormack received a star at only 15 years old — making her the youngest person to receive the honor. Starting her career as a child model at age 4, she transitioned to television at age 7 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the film The Bad Seedwhen she was only 11 years old.

On the other end of the spectrum, the oldest living person ever to receive a Hollywood star was 93-year-old James Hong, who was inducted in 2022. Hong racked up more than 400 screen credits during his decades-long career, including Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China, and Everything Everywhere All At Once — an “oh, it’s that guy” kind of actor.

The Walk of Fame Stagnated for 8 Years in the 1960s

Despite nearly seven years of planning and after installing nearly 1,600 stars within the first year, the Hollywood Walk of Fame took an eight-year-long hiatus almost immediately, and inducted no one new until 1968. Some attributed the delay to worries related to urban decay in the Hollywood area during the ’60s and ’70s. However, the Walk of Fame website says the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance in 1962 that required the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to revamp their selection and financing process — a task that took years to complete. Finally, in 1968, a new star belonging to producer Richard D. Zanuck was installed in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (now the TCL Chinese Theatre).

However, the Walk of Fame has faced other rough patches and controversies over the years. A handful of stars have been stolen, damaged, or vandalized; in many such cases,  the person depicted on the star later became the subject of controversy. While petitions have often called for the removal of certain Hollywood stars, it’ll likely never happen, as the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce says the memorial is “a historic landmark” and that “stars once installed, are considered part of the historic fabric of the Walk.”

Muhammad Ali Is the Only Star Not on the Ground

In 2002, world-famous boxer Muhammad Ali received a Hollywood Walk of a Fame star that was quite unlike the others in one big way — it wasn’t on the ground. Instead, Ali’s star was installed on the Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theater) entertainment complex wall. This exception was granted due to Ali’s initial refusal of the accolade because he didn’t want his name disrespected by “people who have no respect for me” by walking on it. This wasn’t about superstar ego (at least, not solely), but a statement of reverence for what his name represented and his Muslim faith. "I bear the name of our beloved prophet Mohammad,” Ali said at the time, “and it is impossible that I allow people to trample over his name." The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce agreed with his wishes, and Ali’s star, the Walk of Fame’s 2,189th, became the first — and only — star to ever be mounted on a wall.

A Star Comes With a $75,000 Fee

Every year, the Walk of Fame Committee receives around 200 submissions and selects two dozen or so applicants. However, the Walk of Fame is a nonprofit, so nominees (usually their movie studios or record labels) have to pony up some serious cash if they want to join the ranks — and like pretty much everything else, the price of a Hollywood star is subject to inflation. In 1987, a Hollywood star set you back some $3,500, but as of 2024 that number has skyrocketed to $75,000, which covers the creation of the 300-pound star as well as installation, upkeep, and things like floral arrangements upon the honoree’s death. Sometimes impassioned fans of stars will take it upon themselves to honor celebrities: In the early ’90s, for example, Liza Minnelli was nominated by superfans who held movie nights and bake sales to raise the money. Note that celebrities are required to show up to the installation, a rule known as the “Springsteen clause” after the New Jersey musician didn’t show up to his own ceremony.

Not All Stars on the Walk of Fame Honor People

While the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a monument to the many people who made cinema what it is today, the popular memorial doesn’t limit itself to Homo sapiens. Three live-action canines can be found on the Walk of Fame, including Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin, and Lassie, who was portrayed by a variety of border collies throughout the years. While those are the only animal actors (Flipper got robbed), the Walk of Fame is host to many other nonhumans in the form of 19 fictional characters. This imaginary cohort includes such silver-screen luminaries as Big Bird, Godzilla, Pee-wee Herman, the Simpsons, Snow White, and Woody Woodpecker. But perhaps the strangest addition to the Hollywood Walk of Fame is the Chevrolet Suburban, the only inanimate object awarded the honor. It has apparently “starred” in more than 1,750 films.

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